Proposal calls for better pay for Judges

The Judiciary Service Commission has been asked to consider better remuneration packages for all Judges in Samoa, in a bid to retain some highly qualified individuals, in the judiciary.

The proposal, dated 6 October 2020, is asking the Commission for better salaries, allowances and entitlements comparable to other branches of Government.

The submission was prepared by the Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry of Justice and Courts Administration (M.J.C.A.), Moliei Simi Vaai, the Public Service Commission and the Ministry of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.

 “The purpose of this submission is to seek the approval of the Judiciary Service Commission of proposed allowances and entitlements for members of the judiciary of Samoa…” the introduction of the proposal states.

The submission argues that “leave and other entitlements for Judges must not be less favourable than those given to the Chief Executive Officers and must also reflect the nature of the office held”.

It states that the proposal takes into account “secure remuneration and compensation for members of the judiciary” and is necessary to “ensure public confidence in the independence of the judiciary and in the fairness of its decisions.”

The proposal is asking that “allowances and entitlements for the President of the L.T.C. (Land and Titles Court) are not less favourable than the entitlements and allowances for the Supreme Court Judges.

 “Furthermore, it states that “the allowances and entitlements for District Court are not less favourable than those given to Chief Executive officers of Government Ministries…”

The M.J.C.A. of C.E.O. was asked for a comment in relation to the proposal. In response, Ms. Vaai declined, saying it is a confidential matter pertaining to J.S.C.

She did not respond to further queries if judiciary salaries are normally considered confidential.

In terms of accommodation allowance, the submission says the Chief Justice is entitled to an accommodation allowance of $1,000 per month for the purposes of assisting with supplementing rental costs and for payment of utilities and maintenance costs.

 “Where it is necessary for the Chief Justice to rent suitable housing then any lease agreement or rental agreement will be made between the Chief Justice personally and the landlord of the property to be rented,” the proposal reads.

 “The State, through the Samoa Police Service shall provide the necessary security services for the Chief Justice.

 “All other judiciary members shall not be entitled to an accommodation allowance.”

The proposal also covers overseas travel, travel between Upolu and Savaii and Travelling Allowances.

It noted that the Chief Justice shall be entitled to the same type of travel arrangements and travel classes which supply to the Prime Minister from time to time.

Supreme Court Judges and President of the L.T.C. shall be entitled to the same travel arrangements and travel classes which apply to Cabinet Ministers from time to time, it added.

District Court Judges, are entitled to the same travel arrangements and travel classes which apply to the Chief Executive Officers of Government from time to time.

 “Fa’amasino Fesoasoani and Samoan Judges of the LTC shall be entitled to the same travel arrangements and classes which apply to Assistant Chief Executive Officers od Government Ministries from time to time.”

For vehicle and fuel expenses the Chief Justice, Supreme Court Judges, President L.T.V. and District Court Judges shall each be entitled to one vehicle for official and personal use of a type determined by Cabinet from time to time.

The proposal also noted a $5,000 fuel expenses per annum for the Chief Justice, Supreme Court Judges, President L.T.C., and District Court Judges.

Other working conditions and arrangements for members of the judiciary is also included in the submission.

It this section it referred to a HR Consultant report that addressed other matters relating to working conditions and arrangements for members of the judiciary.

The other matters included the need to develop recruitment and selection guidelines for the appointment of judges, review of duration of the term of appointment and extension beyond retirement.

The recommendation to the J.S.C. asks for the allowances and entitlements for the Chief Justice and Supreme Court Judges to be approved and advise Cabinet of its decision for its information.

Similarly, it asks the J.S.C. to approve the allowance and entitlements for District Court Judges, Fa’amasino Fesoasoani, President of L.T.C. and Judges.

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